Migration and the resulting challenges in the host country can have a profound impact on the mental health of refugees and intensify preoccupation with one’s own well-being. Yet, cognitive factors underlying the adverse impact of postmigration stressors are poorly understood.
We aimed at exploring the frequency and nature of well-being comparisons in the context of flight and migration using the Comparison Standards Scale for Well-being (CSS-W), which assesses well-being related social, temporal, counterfactual, criteria-based and dimensional aversive and appetitive comparisons. We further aimed at examining the mediating role of well-being comparisons and general self-efficacy in the relationship between postmigration stressors and psychological well-being.
We conducted a survey with 1070 Arabic speaking forcibly displaced people in Germany assessing well-being comparisons, general self-efficacy, postmigration stressors, subjective well-being and social media engagement.
Factor analysis of the CSS-W yielded a theoretically grounded two-factor structure proposing an aversive (mostly upward) and an appetitive (mostly downward) comparison factor. Aversive and appetitive comparisons were reported by more than 99% of participants, with temporal comparisons being reported by 98.7% of participants. Postmigration stressors were significantly related to subjective well-being and aversive well-being comparisons and general self-efficacy partially mediated this relationship. Appetitive well-being comparisons, however, were not significantly related to neither postmigration stressors nor general self-efficacy.
Aversive well-being comparisons and general self-efficacy seem to play a significant role in the adverse effects of postmigration stressors on subjective well-being. Longitudinal research is needed to examine the directional dynamics between general self-efficacy, well-being comparisons and postmigration stressors.